Quick’s Starting Gig in Vegas Adds to Heated Rivalry with LA Kings
Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon discusses former LA Kings netminder Jonathan Quick and how poised he is to help himself and his new club.
No one wants to see their favorite player suiting up for a rival team. It’s unheard of, unfathomable, and heck, depending on who you ask, sacrilegious. Nevertheless, the LA Kings went through this just a few weeks ago. But, as the old adage goes, time heals all wounds.
For now, at least.
On March 1, fresh off a come-from-behind victory in Winnipeg, fans of the LA Kings were dealt a sudden blow. Shortly after said win, franchise goaltender Jonathan Quick was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. While it saw fellow netminder Joonas Korpisalo and defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov bound for Los Angeles, the return provided little consolation.
Quick’s voyage, however, was not complete.
West to East… to West Again
The next day, the 2012 Conn Smythe winner was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights. The move, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, saw the LA Kings’ longtime stalwart in goal join forces with their most intense rivals. Of course, given their depleted depth chart in goal this season, it was clear that the Golden Knights acquired Quick due to need and not spite. That is assuming that the latter was even considered.
I recently spoke with Golden Knights’ general manager, Kelly McCrimmon, who first addressed why his team acquired the former Kings netminder.
“A very good pedigree,” the Vegas GM said of Quick’s lineage. “An accomplished player, a Stanley Cup champion, and he had history with a lot of people in our organization. [Current Golden Knights assistant] John Stevens was his coach for two Stanley Cups, Alec Martinez was a teammate for many, many years, as well. So, we knew quite a bit about him as a person. Then, just the competitiveness he’s always in his career and how he’s responded when things haven’t gone well for him.”
The latter may be what sets Jonathan Quick apart from so many goaltenders over the past 15 years. Heck, it may even pave the two-time Cup champion’s road to the Hockey Hall of Fame. After accumulating career-worsts in goals-against average (3.50) and save percentage (.876) with the LA Kings this season, all Jonathan Quick needed was a reset. Kelly McCrimmon gave him just that. However, what the 37-year-old also needed — and wanted, frankly — was more playing time.
More Action in Sin City
After playing 19 of the LA Kings’ first 27 games this season, Quick looked to be back in form. But in December, Cal Petersen was sent down to the AHL. This coming after a slow start with the big club in 2022-23. As a result, journeyman netminder Pheonix Copley joined the Kings. However, initially seen as a backup stint turned into a hot streak for the native of North Pole, Alaska.
As Copley went on to amass an impressive 18-4-2 mark since his call-up in early December, Jonathan Quick found himself watching from the bench. Over that time, Quick played in just 12 of the LA Kings’ next 35 games. Of course, while the 37-year-old was still itching to compete, the starting job in Los Angeles was, for all intents and purposes, Copley’s to lose.
Suddenly, the change of scenery marked the return of a familiar role for Quick, albeit unexpectedly.
“He was thrust into the starter role,” McCrimmon told me. “We traded for him on Mar. 2, and on Mar. 7, [fellow Vegas goaltender] Adin Hill was injured, which gives us three boys on Injured Reserve. So, he was thrust into it much more quickly than maybe we anticipated.”
New Team, New Start
While Hill joined Laurent Brossoit and Robin Lehner on IR, Quick has wasted no time capitalizing on his new opportunity.
“He started 4-0 with us,” McCrimmon beamed.
One of those victories was a 34-save shutout performance against one of the league’s best teams, the Carolina Hurricanes, on Mar. 11. That victory, earned in a very hostile PNC Arena in Raleigh, marked, for all intents and purposes, a warning to other teams in the league. Jonathan Quick having plenty left in the tank is, indeed, a warning few teams will take lightly.
“He was acquired as insurance, yet he was put into the role very quickly where he’s really helping our team,” stressed McCrimmon.
Last Thursday, Quick was dealt his first loss as a Golden Knight. He allowed six goals on 29 shots en route to a 7-2 loss to Calgary. Still, the defeat was only No. 32’s first for his new team. It did, however, allow the LA Kings to pull to within a single point of Vegas for the Pacific Division lead.
As for the LA Kings themselves, while they may have turned to a new chapter, the pair they acquired from Columbus are fitting in nicely.
Crew From Columbus Making an Impact
In seven games for the LA Kings, Vladislav Gavrikov has a goal, three assists, and 13 blocked shots to go in hand with an average of 21 minutes of total ice time. Joonas Korpisalo, meanwhile, has gone 3-0-1 so far with a 1.96 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
The Kings, by the way, have gone 6-0-2 since the trade.
Overall, it’s looking as though the LA Kings and Vegas Golden Knights are on a collision course. They are about to collide in what looks to be a perfect storm, so to speak. They are, after all, the two hottest teams in the NHL right now. Heck, writers in Hollywood may not be able to write a better script for those final few weeks. Nevertheless. Jonathan Quick is as motivated as ever before.
It’s exciting to think about the outcome, whatever it may be.
1 thought on “Quick’s Starting Gig in Vegas Adds to Heated Rivalry with LA Kings”
Talk about Super Assume . Johnathan lives for the elite game , as as a Kings Fan I know this Series will be a Barn Burner . Great Hockey is here …. !